This tuna pasta salad has everything that you love about classic tuna salad - pickles, onions, celery, dill - but we ditch the bread and add noodles instead! It's cool, creamy, and LOADED with fresh flavors. The classic mayo-laden dressing of traditional tuna macaroni salads gets a glow-up with olive oil and pickle juice to create a lighter but still classically flavored dressing!
You Will Love This
- It's super quick and easy to throw together! If you normally have everything on hand to make a traditional tuna salad for sandwiches, all you need to add is the noodles! Give the pickles, onions, celery, and fresh dill a quick chop and then you basically just toss everything together. It's tuna salad minus the bread, plus noodles, and it's amazing!
- The dressing is out of this world delicious. It's got just the right combination of fresh dill and garlic powder along with mayonnaise, olive oil, and pickle juice to create an EXTRA, SUPER creamy, yet light, homemade dressing. We've come a long way since the days of heavy, mayo-laden tuna macaroni salad!
- It's perfect for a backyard barbecue or family potlucks. Are you always searching for a new and different pasta salad recipe to bring to your friend's grill out? Me too! Which is why I created this little number. Chances are good your friends have never tried something like this before and if they enjoy tuna as much as you do, they are going to LOVE this tuna noodle salad recipe!
- If you loved this recipe, be sure to check out my:
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Pasta - I like to use rotini for most of my pasta salads, but you can use your favorite short cut of pasta! Penne, rigatoni, fusilli, elbow macaroni, or bow tie pasta would all work well.
- Tuna - Use your favorite type of tuna for this tuna pasta salad! Canned or the kind that comes in the packet will work well. Oil-packed or water-packed - either will taste great. Tuna is such an easy way to add some protein into a typical pasta and veggie dish!
- Pickles - I like to use those cute little baby dill pickles for this easy tuna salad. Feel free to use whatever your favorite pickle is! Pickle relish would work as well. If you're not into pickles, cook frozen peas and add them instead!
- Celery - Celery adds a really nice crunch to this pasta salad. If you don't have any, you can omit it or add extra pickles instead.
- Red Onion - The onion in this pasta salad adds a little extra crunch and a zing of flavor as well. You can use white or yellow onions in place of the red if you'd like.
- Simple Dill Pickle Dressing - Mayo, pickle juice, olive oil, dill, Dijon mustard, and garlic powder come together to make the most delicious quick and easy pasta salad dressing you've ever had!
Stir to combine.
Add pasta, tuna, pickles, celery, and red onion to a large bowl.
Pour dressing mixture over pasta salad.
Toss to coat.
Garnish with fresh dill and enjoy!
- Salt your pasta water moderately. This is your first chance to season your pasta and it's a very important step! If you are not salting your pasta water - please start now! Add about 2-4 tablespoons of Kosher salt to your large pot of boiling water before you add the uncooked pasta. You will be AMAZED at how much more flavorful the pasta and the entire dish is!
- Toss pasta in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. After straining the al dente pasta, give it a quick toss in olive oil with a couple pinches of salt and pepper. This ensures that the noodles won't stick together and it will help the dressing find its way into every nook and cranny of the noodles. No need to rinse it with cold water after you drain it!
Yes - and you should! Tuna is a great way to add some protein and extra flavor to your favorite pasta salad. It's a convenient and easy way to boost the nutrition of your meal and it will fill you up and fuel you through the day.
This easy tuna pasta salad recipe requires just a handful of simple ingredients - noodles, pickles, celery, red onion, and tuna - plus a delicious creamy dill pickle dressing that coats every nook and cranny of the pasta. It's flavorful without being too heavy.
You can add whatever you like to this tuna pasta salad! I like to use a classic mix of pickles, celery, and red onion. However, you can add capers, diced tomatoes, green olives, green onions, or almost any kind of veggie you like!
Make-Ahead and Storage Instructions
- Make-Ahead: You can make this creamy tuna pasta salad recipe 3-4 days in advance. If you're planning to make this easy side dish ahead of time, just add half the dressing initially. Then add the rest just before serving because the noodles will continue to soak up the dressing as it sits. The dressing will thicken as it sit in the fridge so feel free to add a splash of milk to loosen it up before serving. And be sure to season to taste with salt and pepper as well!
- Storage: If you end up with leftovers, this tuna macaroni salad will stay fresh in the refrigerator in an airtight container for about 3-4 days.
Easy Pasta Salad Recipes
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Tuna Pasta Salad Recipe
This Tuna Pasta Salad Recipe has everything that you love about classic tuna salad - pickles, onions, celery, dill - but we ditch the bread and add noodles instead! It's cool, creamy, and LOADED with fresh flavors. The classic mayo-laden dressing of traditional tuna macaroni salads gets a glow-up with olive oil and pickle juice to create a lighter but still classically flavored dressing!
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Total Time: 20 minutes
- Yield: 10 servings 1x
- Category: Main Dish
- Method: Stove Top
- Cuisine: American
- 16 oz. rotini pasta, cooked according to package directions until al dente
- 11 oz. (family size) packet of tuna
- 1 cup sliced pickles, about ¼" thick
- 1 cup sliced celery, about ¼" thick
- ½ cup sliced red onion, about ⅛" thick
- Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat evenly and set aside to cool.
- In a small measuring cup combine mayo, pickle juice, olive oil, dill, garlic powder, and a couple large pinches of salt and pepper.
- Add pasta, tuna, pickles, celery, and red onion to a large bowl.
- Drizzle pasta salad with dressing and toss to coat.
- Garnish with fresh dill and enjoy!
Kosher salt after the water comes to a boil and before you add the uncooked pasta. You will be AMAZED at how much more flavorful the pasta and the entire dish is!This is your first chance to season your pasta and it's a very important step! If you are not salting your pasta water - please start now! Add about 2-4 tablespoons of
Toss pasta in olive oil, salt, and pepper. After straining the al dente pasta, give it a quick toss in olive oil with a couple pinches of salt and pepper. This ensures that the noodles won't stick together and it will help the dressing find it's way into every nook and cranny of the noodles.
- Serving Size:
- Calories: 360
- Sugar: 6.3 g
- Sodium: 217.1 mg
- Fat: 15.6 g
- Saturated Fat: 2.5 g
- Carbohydrates: 41.4 g
- Fiber: 2.1 g
- Protein: 13.9 g
- Cholesterol: 17.7 mg
Keywords: tuna macaroni salad, tuna pasta salad recipe, old fashioned macaroni salad with tuna, cold tuna pasta salad